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Only 462 infected: TB patients prove predictions wrong, largely succeed in escaping Covid

🔴 While in 2020, a total 298 TB patients contracted Covid-19, in 2021, the co-infection among such patients dropped to 164, recording a 50% plunge. In 2021, however, the active cases increased by three-fold.

Written by Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai |
January 6, 2022 1:23:39 am
mumbai tuberculosis patients, covid risks for tuberculosis patientsExperts attribute this to the regimen already followed by TB patients, such as frequent wearing of masks, and steps taken by the civic body even as they say more research is needed to understand the phenomenon. (File)

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, several experts had predicted that the infection could be particularly hard on tuberculosis (TB) patients who already have compromised lungs. However, TB patients in Mumbai largely escaped being co-infected with Covid-19, according to BMC data. The data shows that since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, only 462 such patients in the city contracted novel coronavirus while the fatality rate among the TB patients co-infected with Covid-19 stood at 8 per cent.

Experts attribute this to the regimen already followed by TB patients, such as frequent wearing of masks, and steps taken by the civic body even as they say more research is needed to understand the phenomenon.

While in 2020, a total 298 TB patients contracted Covid-19, in 2021, the co-infection among such patients dropped to 164, recording a 50% plunge. In 2021, however, the active cases increased by three-fold.

On the fatality aspect, while in 2020, 25 of the co-infected patients succumbed to the infection, the numbers dropped to 12 in 2021. Most of the deceased had other comorbidities or living conditions like malnutrition, diabetes, smoking, HIV among others.

“There are several theories behind it, with one being that the TB patients were more cautious and followed Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. Generally, all TB patients wear masks both inside and outside their homes. So, this stopped the transmission of Covid-19,” said Dr Pranita Tipre, in-charge of TB at the BMC.

Besides, as the pandemic broke out, BMC is learnt to have taken various steps, including shifting most of the TB patients to Covid Care Centres especially from slums like Dharavi, Bandra (east), Kurla and Govandi among others, that record high number of TB cases every year.

“During the peak of the pandemic in the first and second wave, many patients were struggling to get their monthly medicines. To ensure that they don’t miss on their regime, the BMC couriered their medicines and even delivered them through home visits,” said Dr Tipre. “It helped them keep their immunity strong during their treatment,” she added.

Dr Lalit Anande, former medical superintendent of the Sewri TB hospital, said that there is a possibility that the TB regimen might have contributed to increasing their immunity and saved them from Sars-CoV-2. “TB patients are highly immunocompromised, which makes them most vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. Despite this, the number of co-infection has been extremely limited. So, there is a need for more studies,” said Dr Anande.

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